Red Cross not up for running Belgium's biggest asylum centre

The Red Cross has turned down the opportunity to run Belgium's largest centre for asylum seekers. The organisation has told the asylum agency Fedasil that it cannot manage to run the centre in Limburg where 945 asylum seekers will be housed.

The Belgian government recently gave the go ahead for 3,500 temporary new places to be created. 945 are destined for the Parelstrand holiday park in Lommel. The first asylum seekers are expected next month. They will be able to stay there until the start of the summer holiday season.

The asylum seekers are being housed in 99 caravans and 43 chalets. It's going to be 6 or 7 people in one unit and that the Red Cross believes is too many. The Red Cross is responsible for the lion's share of asylum places in Belgium, but has shied away from the opportunity of running the country's largest facility.

The Red Cross looked at the feasibility of opening the Lommel centre but came to the conclusion that three other centres elsewhere in the country needed to open more quickly and that they were the priority.

The chalets and the caravans where the asylum seekers will stay will be separated from the rest of the holiday park. The asylum centre will have a separate entrance, be guarded around the clock and asylum seekers will have to stay put in the evenings. The federal and Lommel authorities are aware that local residents are wary of the arrival of asylum seekers and intend to provide more information soon.